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Gang sweep in Holland

WZZM-TV • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:39 AM

The U.S. Attorney's office issued a statement Thursday describing the investigation as coordinated efforts of the Ottawa County Prosecutor's Office; the Holland Police Department; the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department; the Michigan State Police; the Michigan Department of Corrections, Parole Office; and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Authorities acted on a number of search warrants in Holland on Thursday. It's not known how many people were involved.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said that, due to the nature of the investigation, it would not be releasing any other details.

The Holland Sentinel reported that several homes and businesses were searched starting early Thursday morning. The targets are active gang members, according to police, and Thursday’s effort follows a year of groundwork. Fifteen federal and two state warrants back up the raids.

An anti-violence group in Holland called Escape provides youth with free activities to keep them out of gangs. The group's director, Willie Watt, said the lack of jobs for teens and young adults is a major reason why the city has a gang problem.

"Can you imagine what happens if Holland was to give jobs to some of the kids in the community, the same kids that are tearing up the parks?" Watt said. "Now, they'd have to clean it up and there would be less crime and activity in the parks. We've got to put these kids back to work."

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